OTAs have reached something of a saturation point in recent times. And to be frank, unless you have some site-specific discount code, all of them offer pretty much the same options, at least when it comes to flights (hotel pricing tends to differ a lot more on OTAs than flights).
But not all OTAs are made equal. I’ve found 2 interesting OTA options which allow you to save more money when booking flights that I’d like to get your thoughts on.
CleverLayover has a very interesting value proposition. Instead of looking for the fastest, most direct route between A and B, they explore whether there is a possibility of saving money by buying 2 round-trip tickets, ie A to C, C to B. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, such are the vagaries of airline ticketing systems
An example is shown below of how you get from SFO to GUM for $952 by buying 2 round trip tickets, versus $1.8K + if you booked a single ticket on Expedia
Of course, this immediately raises certain issues
- the possibility that your two airlines do not operate an interline baggage arrangement, requiring you to clear immigration, collect your bags and check in again to your next destination
- the possibility that you’ll end up in a country requiring a transit visa
- the possibility of having to change airports between flights departing the same city (eg LGA to JFK, HND to NRT)
- having to budget extra time on your trip
On the other hand, it does open up the possibility to enjoying an additional mini holiday in your layover city.
I think the question you ultimately have to ask yourself is- how much do I value my time? Is it worth saving $X in exchange for a Y hour longer flight?
For what it’s worth I’ve tried searching a lot of routes from Singapore and the site isn’t turning up many options (if Cleverlayover cannot find you “savings” (i.e. buying 2 round trip tickets instead of 1) it reverts to being an ordinary OTA and offers you the best price it can find. I suspect it may work better for domestic US and intra-Europe itineraries where there is more potential to hack the route via budget carriers.
So Cleverlayover is definitely worth a quick glance when you’re planning, but I’d not rely on it to consistently find me a better deal.
Ah, the site so amazing everyone’s favourite airline tried to sue it.
SkipLagged is based on the concept of throwaway ticketing. The idea is that flying from A to B can cost more than flying from A to C via B. So why not buy a ticket from A to C, get off at B and throwaway the last segment of your ticket? Genius.
(in case you’re wondering how flying MORE miles can cost you LESS, it’s all got to do with the concept of demand and supply. Airlines charge you more to fly between hub cities because those are popular, but they also need to route you through hub cities if you’re en route to a smaller city. So, for example, flying from SFO to JFK may cost more than flying SFO to MIA via JFK)
This is strictly speaking against the T&C of most airlines, but they really can’t do much about it. If you provide your FFP number and they catch you doing this enough times, they can theoretically void your account. But I imagine if you’re doing this it’s because you’re just looking at absolute lowest price and don’t fly with that airline a whole lot anyway.
Some argue this is theft, like switching price tags on items in a store That’s ridiculous. This is more akin to ordering a set menu at a restaurant and not eating desert, in my opinion. When I buy a ticket, I’m entitled to fly or not to fly any or all of the legs on my ticket.
The nice thing about Skiplagged is that it gives idiot proof instructions how to go about doing this- for example, I found that you can get from Houston to London for $991 by telling American Airlines you want to fly from Houston to Mumbai.
You simply get off the airport in London and don’t make your connecting Gulf Air flight
Also note that if you want to utilize throwaway ticketing
- you cannot check any luggage (because your luggage will be sent from A to C while you get off at B, en route to C). So if the FA wants to gate check your bag, fight tooth and nail or face the consequences
- in the event of flight disruptions, you might be booked on another flight to C that takes a different routing (in which case you can’t really object and say “But I really wanted to go to B!”)
- this only works for 1 way tickets, because if you miss one leg on your flight the airline cancels the entire ticket (ie A–>B—>C—>B—>A. If I fly A to B, then do not fly B–>C, all legs from B–>C onwards are cancelled)
- if you’re doing this on an international route, you might need to show proof of visa for both B (if B requires transit visa) and C, even if you’re intending to get off at B
The other problem with these 2 sites is that they’re more US and Europe centric. I’ve not seen many offers for flights departing from Singapore. That said, if you’re intending to travel intra Europe or across the US, there might be some value here.
I personally wouldn’t use these sites since I place a very high value on time. But if you’re looking to save the most money possible, these may yet prove useful.